When President Fitzsimmons announced that our group was going to Japan as part of the 2017 Global Citizenship Project … the first two places I hoped to be able to go visit were Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, and Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Fortunately, both of these places as well as many, many other incredible sites were part of our trip to Japan.
We arrived in Japan around 5pm on Sunday, after a very long 14 hour flight and literally hit the ground running. So off we went Sunday evening into Tokyo to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to their observation deck for a view of Tokyo from above.
After that we had dinner … our first bowl of delicious ramen. FYI – Japanese ramen has absolutely nothing to do with the freeze-dried, cup a soup garbage Americans call ramen. Japanese ramen has a delicious broth, fresh handmade noodles, fresh vegetables, large pieces of pork, seaweed and I chose to get the optional soft boiled egg … yummy!
Tsukiji Fish Market – Day 2 in Japan:
I had seen several documentaries on TV about the giant tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, and never in a million years did I think I would ever have the chance to see it in person. Tsukiji is the largest fish and seafood market in the world, and it’s also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind in the world. When my alarm went off at 3am, I jumped up to get ready to go. I met up with the rest of my “GCP Family” at 3:30am in the hotel lobby, jumped into our first of many taxi’s we would take in Japan and arrived at Tsukiji before 4am. They give out a very limited amount of tickets to see the giant tuna auction in person each day, so we didn’t want to be late. We received our tickets before 4am … then had to sit and wait until 5:50am when our group got to go in.
One of the “fish buyers” who spoke pretty good English explained how the tuna auction worked, how tuna are evaluated and answered any questions we had. (Note the flashlight and ice pick under his arm. Those are used in evaluating the quality of the tuna.)
5:50am finally arrived, and we walked into the giant tuna auction … WOW! The sight of several hundred giant tuna fish in one room is impressive. And when I say giant, some are 5-6 feet long, weighing several hundred pounds. The auction itself is very fast paced … some auctions lasting only seconds, and the fish selling for thousands of dollars. After we left the tuna auction, we walked past many smaller stalls where vendors were selling other types of fish and seafood.
The best part of visiting Tsukiji was the freshest possible sushi available on the planet for breakfast!
Hiroshima – Day 4 in Japan:
My whole life I have been taught about August 6, 1945 from the American perspective. I have been to the Air & Space Museum and seen the Enola Gay … but until March 15, 2017, I never truly understood how much death and destruction that one airplane caused. Of course I knew that many people died that day, but I was taught it was done to ultimately save lives (both American and Japanese) and to end World War II.
I never really thought about the innocent people like Shinichi Tetsutani, a young boy who was just about 4 years old that day. At 8:15am he was outside riding his beloved tricycle 1,500 meters from the hypocenter. He died that night. His father buried him in their backyard with the tricycle he loved so much. In 1985, Shinichi’s father dug up his son to move his remains to a family burial spot. He donated his son’s tricycle to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
There are also video’s of survivors like Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, who was 16 and in school that day. He was 2 kilometers from the hypocenter and survived. It is very moving to hear him speak firsthand about the horrors he saw that day.
On August 6, 1945 the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall was the only building left standing near the center of Hiroshima.
I think the Holy Father summed things up perfectly!
Peace, Love & Sushi:
Peace – I think that Peace was a common theme in our trip, from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to the Fuji Sanctuary, to the many Temples & Shrines that we visited.
Love – I think all of us fell in love with the kindness and welcoming the Japanese people showed us throughout our trip. What I personally liked the most was their respectful culture in general, “others before self” attitude and the respect the Japanese show their elders. In our travels we lost a wallet, camera battery & charger and an iPhone. All were returned to us. There were also many Japanese people who went literally out of their way to help us find our way around their beautiful country.
Sushi – need I say anymore!